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Book cover of A Good and Happy Child

A Good and Happy Child

by Justin Evans

Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
Pages: 336
Paperback
ISBN: 9780307351289






Available to Buy

Overview of A Good and Happy Child

A Washington Post Best Book of 2007

“Beautifully written and perfectly structured. . . . This novel is much more than The Omen for the latte generation, and Evans cleverly subverts expectations at every turn.” –Washington Post

In the smart and suspenseful A Good and Happy Child, a psychological thriller in the tradition of Donna Tartt’s The Secret History with shades of The Exorcist, a young man reexamines his childhood memories of strange visions and erratic behavior to answer disturbing questions that continue to haunt him and his new family.

“[A] satisfying, suspenseful first novel. . . . Young George’s intriguing story unbalances the reader right up to the book’s deliciously chilling end.”
—People

“A scary, grown-up ghost story that combines Southern gothic with more than a twist of The Exorcist. . . . Combine[s] mind-bending storytelling with excellent prose.”
—Portland Tribune

“Think Rosemary’s Baby—plus . . . told in the kind of prose that mesmerizes, sweeping the reader along so fast that there’s no time to ask questions.”
—Hartford Courant

“[A] dazzling debut . . . part psychological thriller, part horror story.”
—Chicago Tribune

“Relat[es] his otherworldly suspense story with the cool, calm eye of a skeptic.”
—Entertainment Weekly (A—)

Synopsis of A Good and Happy Child

A Washington Post Best Book of 2007

“Beautifully written and perfectly structured. . . . This novel is much more than The Omen for the latte generation, and Evans cleverly subverts expectations at every turn.” –Washington Post

In the smart and suspenseful A Good and Happy Child, a psychological thriller in the tradition of Donna Tartt’s The Secret History with shades of The Exorcist, a young man reexamines his childhood memories of strange visions and erratic behavior to answer disturbing questions that continue to haunt him and his new family.

“[A] satisfying, suspenseful first novel. . . . Young George’s intriguing story unbalances the reader right up to the book’s deliciously chilling end.”
—People

“A scary, grown-up ghost story that combines Southern gothic with more than a twist of The Exorcist. . . . Combine[s] mind-bending storytelling with excellent prose.”
—Portland Tribune

“Think Rosemary’s Baby—plus . . . told in the kind of prose that mesmerizes, sweeping the reader along so fast that there’s no time to ask questions.”
—Hartford Courant

“[A] dazzling debut . . . part psychological thriller, part horror story.”
—Chicago Tribune

“Relat[es] his otherworldly suspense story with the cool, calm eye of a skeptic.”
—Entertainment Weekly (A—)

The Washington Post - Shaye Areheart

With A Good and Happy Child, Justin Evans has written a novel that will scare even the most hardened horror fans out of their skins. He also has delivered a book that is, for the most part, beautifully written and perfectly structured. The result is a literary thriller of the first order.

About the Author, Justin Evans

JUSTIN EVANS is a strategy and business development executive in New York City, where he lives with his wife and their two children. This is his first novel.

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Editorials

From Barnes & Noble

Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers
Evan's thrilling debut, A Good and Happy Child, is a terrifying page-turner that probes such themes as demonic possession, Oedipal love, and psychosis.

The story begins in present-day New York, when George encounters some discomfort when around his newborn son. His coping mechanism is to avoid the child -- a disturbing situation that leads him to a therapist in hopes of saving his marriage. After a brief initial discussion, it becomes clear that George has a troubled past, and his therapist encourages him to keep a journal for use in their sessions.

George's writings focus on the year he turned 11, as he struggles to cope with his father's mysterious death in a faraway country. But it's when George begins to hear a voice that things go horribly awry. His new "friend" takes him on adventures, but he soon begins to incite George to frightening acts of violence.

As his therapist reads these musings, she believes that George's friend is merely a manifestation of his own guilt. But others think differently. Is George's friend a symptom of a serious mental illness? Or a force far more sinister? (Fall 2007 Selection)

Shaye Areheart

With A Good and Happy Child, Justin Evans has written a novel that will scare even the most hardened horror fans out of their skins. He also has delivered a book that is, for the most part, beautifully written and perfectly structured. The result is a literary thriller of the first order.
— The Washington Post

Publishers Weekly

This stunning novel marks the debut of a serious talent. Evans manages to take a familiar concept—the young child haunted by a demon invisible to others—and infuse it with psychological depth and riveting suspense. The setting alternates between George Davies's difficult childhood in Preston, Va., a small college town, after his father Paul's untimely death, and his equally challenging life as an adult and new father in New York City. Ostracized by his classmates and emotionally isolated by his mother, a struggling academic, young George begins to be visited by a doppelgänger, who, like the ghost of Hamlet's father, intimates that foul play was involved in Paul's death. When those visitations lead to violence, George begins receiving psychiatric treatment. Meanwhile, some of his late father's colleagues claim that demonic possession is a reality. Evans subtly evokes terror and anxiety with effective understatement. The intelligence and humanity of this thriller should help launch it onto bestseller lists. (May)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information

Library Journal

This debut novel grips readers from the first chapter, which introduces 30-year-old George Davies, a man whose life is falling apart because he is scared to death to be in the same room as his newborn son. When he consults a psychiatrist for help, readers are thrust into the past, encountering George as a pudgy, friendless boy whose father has just died under mysterious circumstances. Is George really possessed by a demon, or is he just losing his mind? Does he need an exorcism—as his father's friends believe—or should he be committed to the state asylum? New York City strategy and business development executive Evans delivers a creepy and entertaining story full of perfectly written characters. A definite recommendation for any library.
—Marianne Fitzgerald

Kirkus Reviews

A psychological thriller that keeps the reader on edge until the last page. With occasional echoes of The Exorcist, this debut novel concerns the therapy of George Davies, who must come to terms with what he suffered as a child before he can function as a father. The 30-year-old Davies has a phobia that prevents him from holding his newborn son, thus threatening his previously happy marriage. Seeking the help of a psychiatrist, to whom this first-person narrative is addressed, George reveals that he had undergone therapy 19 years earlier, because of experiences that he has done his best to repress and would plainly prefer not to revisit. Yet he agrees to recount whatever he can remember in a series of notebooks, which constitute most of this novel's chapters. He details the torment he endured after the death of his father, who had become ill on a humanitarian mission to Honduras. The death leaves the 11-year-old George not only fatherless but friendless, as his schoolmates turn on him with insinuations that there was some scandal surrounding his father. An apparition visits the boy, one that might be a psychological projection of George's darker side, might be a demon, might be an imaginary (or not-so-imaginary) friend. The Friend (as George refers to him) pushes the boy toward revelations about not only his father's death, but about his parents' marriage. Though both academics, George's parents held very different views on religion, with his father feeling that the devil was a palpably real presence who must be battled while his mother remained more of a modern rationalist, dismissing her husband's beliefs as superstition. Whether the cause is psychological or spiritual, George as a boybecomes involved in a series of strange calamities that suggest he should be institutionalized. The adult George ultimately realizes that he can't be a father until he resolves his boyhood mystery. A haunting story of guilt, denial and the possibility of demonic possession.

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